To some people they are an irritant – but those people are probably guilty of littering, not picking up their dog’s mess or creating a disturbance.
To most of us, however, community safety wardens are a vital resource which help make our streets a little safer and cleaner – a service which allows other organisations like Falkirk Council and Police Scotland to do their jobs more effectively.
At a meeting of the recently reformed Grangemouth Community Council last month, which was attended by members of Bo’ness Community Council, people heard a detailed report from a local community safety warden on her role and the challenges she and her colleagues face day in, day out.
The main message the wardens wanted to get across was people should not just phone up the service anonymously.
The community safety warden said: “We are a monitoring and reporting service. When we find any issues we take a note of them and pass them onto the relevant services for them to deal with.
“Without contact details we can’t find out the specifics of the problem. All the information is confidential, we don’t reveal anyone’s details to anyone. Give us the chance to sort the problem.
“Phone us and leave your name and a contact number so we can find out exactly what the problem is and where the problem is. With dog fouling, for instance, we try to find out the culprits and rely on members of the public to report dog fouling.”
And dog fouling is just one of the problems – wardens deal with everything from frightening canines to fly-tipping tenants.
The warden continued: “If a dog is being walked by someone who cannot control it and it’s actions are causing fear we can go to the owner. We tell them people are frightened by the actions of their dog when it is off the leash.
“We can put a Control of Dog Notice on the dog that stays with it for life wherever it goes. It lays down requirements like the dog having to be kept on a leash at all times and having to be walked by a responsible person who can control it.”
Fly-tipping was identified as a major concern.
The warden said: “Whether that’s down to people’s laziness or because they don’t understand the new recycling bin system I don’t know. We actually go through the bin bags we find to see if we can get an address so we can go and ask people how the bag ended up where it did.
“There are fly-tipping penalties handed out, but not so many because you cannot prove it. People will say ‘someone must have been raking in my bin’.”
The community safety wardens also carry out regular litter patrols at schools throughout the area.
“If someone is under 16 and they drop litter they cannot be issued with a fixed penalty of £80. If a young person is found littering we take their names and this goes back to the litter strategy team and they then inform the school.
“A meeting is organised with the youngster, usually during lunch hour, to find out why they dropped the litter.”